Traditional Kakadu owners sue park owners after ‘building hiking trail on Aboriginal site’

0

Aboriginal elders of Kakadu National Park sue owners for building a walking trail next to a waterfall featured in the movie Crocodile Dundee

  • Kakadu National Park is being sued for illegally building a hiking trail
  • The hiking trail is said to be right next to a sacred Aboriginal site in Gunlom
  • The maximum fine for performing work in a sacred place without a certificate is $ 314,000

Kakadu National Park management will ask the Commonwealth Attorney General to intervene after it was charged with allegedly illegally disrupting a sacred Aboriginal site.

Parks Australia – which is part of the federal government’s environmental division – has been accused of building a walking trail in the World Heritage-listed park in Gunlom, a waterfall that appeared in the movie Crocodile Dundee.

The Northern Territory Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority says the track was constructed near a limited ceremonial function without an Authority Certificate, which will be issued after the traditional owners have been consulted.

It sued Parks Australia in September under the NT Sacred Sites Act 1998 for carrying out the uncertified work.

Parks Australia lawyers on Monday requested a postponement to give it time to make notices to attorney general across the country, asking to intervene in the case.

Parks Australia - which is part of the federal government's environmental division - is accused of building a walking trail in the World Heritage-listed park in Gunlom, a waterfall that appeared in the movie Crocodile Dundee

Parks Australia – which is part of the federal government’s environmental division – is accused of building a walking trail in the World Heritage-listed park in Gunlom, a waterfall that appeared in the movie Crocodile Dundee

“We’re not in a position to make a plea,” Todd Hers Goedkoop told the local NT court when Magistrate Tanya Austin asked him where the case took place.

“Constitutional issues arise in this prosecution and as such the accused must make notices to the Commonwealth, State and Territory Attorneys General.”

Mr. Hers Goedkoop said the announcements had not been issued, but would be within the next day.

When asked what the constitutional issues were, Mr. Hers Goedkoop told Magistrate Austin he could not say that.

AAP understands that Parks Australia will claim that the NT legislation is not relevant to her or the cause.

AAPA attorney Ray Murphy protested the request for a postponement, saying that the case could be heard once the notices were heard by the various attorneys general.

“What needs to be determined today, what facts are at stake and what witnesses are required for cross-examination,” he said.

“This case has been dragging on for a while.”

Mr. Murphy accused Mr. Hers Goedkoop of being “vague” on the constitutional issues.

“If there are any problems, report them now so we all know where we stand,” he said.

Traditional owners accuse Kakadu National Park of building a hiking trail next to the waterfall seen in Crocodile Dundee (photo)

Traditional owners accuse Kakadu National Park of building a hiking trail next to the waterfall seen in Crocodile Dundee (photo)

Traditional owners accuse Kakadu National Park of building a hiking trail next to the waterfall seen in Crocodile Dundee (photo)

AAPA Chairman Bobby Nunggumarjbarr has previously said Parks Australia should consult with traditional owners to protect Kakadu for all Australians.

“I want the park (management) and traditional owners and AAPA to work more closely together so that things like this can’t happen again,” he said.

“I want to make sure that all sacred sites are protected in the future for the benefit of the traditional owners and keepers and all visitors.”

If the case continues, it is expected that approximately 18 witnesses will be called. Some of these will be native and require a translator, Mr. Murphy said.

The hearing is expected to last about eight days, the court has heard.

Before AAPA issues a Certificate of Authority, it consults Traditional Owners on the sites to understand how to protect the sacred site and what restrictions and conditions should be applied to the proposed works.

The maximum penalty under NT law for performing work in a sacred place without a certificate is $ 314,000.

The case was adjourned on April 30 to hear directions.

Advertisement